Medical records

July 2, 2008

surgeons.jpgImperial College withdrew its offer of a place to study medicine to an 18-year-old when it found out he had been convicted of burglary three years ago.

Majid Ahmed won the place after turning his life around and achieving straight A grades at A level. The conviction was spent but he had to disclose it for a criminal records check for Imperial.

The decision, which comes as the government is considering a new strategy to encourage elite universities to take more students from less wealthy backgrounds, has been widely criticised. Ahmed should not have to bear the consequences of a youthful indiscretion for life and should have been given the chance to fulfil his ambition to become a doctor, critics say. 

Imperial College says it was right to bar him and that decision had been made to uphold trust in the medical profession.

What is your opinion? Is Imperial being too harsh?   


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Yes I do think it is too harsh. it goes with the common belief in society that “once a criminal always a criminal”.

Posted by k.a.anand | Report as abusive

I think imperial was correct, to say no.It cost £250.000 of tax payers money to train to be a doctor.Even if imperial offered him a place. no hospital will give him a job.In life we all have choices to make.right or wrong.and have to live by matter the cost.He made the wrong choice and can blame no body but himself.

Posted by H.HASSAN | Report as abusive

I think it’s very harsh, especially considering that his sentence was spent. Further, it’s also really insulting to the student: he had the guts to openly admit his wrongs and then gets treated with contempt. Do we want people to attempt to conceal their past on application forms – that’s the message that seems to be being sent out.

While I can sympathise with the institution’s position, Ahmed had shown clear signs of achievement and of having a new direction – he had, after-all, been accepted onto one of the UK’s toughest courses!

Posted by uk student | Report as abusive

The ‘level’ of the crime could or should be looked at. Was it a youthful prank? Presumably this has been done. Was his sentence too harsh? If we are going to trust doctors then we must trust them to act wisely.

Posted by Philip | Report as abusive

Read the Watson-Crick story. It sounds like research should be his field. Oh that’s right he was Italian…..

Posted by Noticedthisbehaviorbefore | Report as abusive

This comment is directed to H.HASSAN.

Your comments undermine the whole judicial system, which is designed to make people pay their debt to society, think about and learn from their actions and to ultimately be rehabilitated citezens that can again be a constructive part of the community.

Where you said,

“In life we all have choices to make.right or wrong.and have to live by matter the cost”, totally contradicts the judicial system of any democracy. If that’s your view, then basically the person’s life is over. Even if you refer to religion, it still talks about fogiveness. If the person can’t work for life due to a mistake that they’ve paid the price for to society, then why don’t we think about going back to the “good old days”, like cutting offenders hands off or killing them so they can’t ever reoffend, nor work again for that matter.

Think about it this way, how much does it cost to jail an inmate for a year, let alone a repeat offender who accrues court cost as well versus, what a doctor can contribute to society?

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

a convicted thief ? what further proof do you need that he would have made an excellent physician

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

I think the boy should be given a chance. He was 15 three years ago, which is no the same as when one is 25. The college should be reminded that it is an institution which should bring the best out of people instead of punishing a 15 year old child. The fact that he has achieved the As, meant he made a huge effort in the last couple of years. He should be encouraged.

Which one of us has not made a mistake?

Posted by Y Neathercoat | Report as abusive

Well my father is a highly ranke anaesethic doctor who got a convinction for drink driving when he was 20 just before he started his studies – he is certainly not a criminal, all he did was make a mistake and thankfully he wasnt consecutively punished for his crime – surely the whole point in a judicial system is so that one can be punished appropriately for a crime and to serve that sentence and then after completing it to be rehabilitated into society. Imperial does not have the right to decide that they are gonna punish a young man for a mistake he made when he was 15! who can say they didnt do something stupid at age 15?

Posted by Jonathan Sullivan | Report as abusive

There probably are a lot of students fighting for a place in Imperial College. Why not give it to someone who never stole anything? Just to look “forgiving” to the other one? I hope the decision was a result of reasonable thinking, and shouldn’t be criticised by anyone who doesn’t have all the info on the case.

Posted by Evel Monkee | Report as abusive

Although the circumstances need to be looked at in detail in such a case, burglary is a very serious imprisonable offence, which depending on the circumstances causes great alarm to the victim. It can rarely be described as a “mistake” of the kind any of us might have committed when we were 15. If the conviction here was for breaking into somebody’s home, I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that Imperial’s decision was right. It would take a lot longer than three years for the perpetrator to convince me that he was no longer a wrong ‘un, and I certainly wouldn’t want to have him in any college I attended, or subsequently taking life or death decisions for that matter. There’s quite a lot of truth in the old adage “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”. Everybody should be aware that behaving criminally will have lasting and possibly lifelong consequences for them, their families and especially their victims. If anyone is not aware of that, then as a society we had better make sure we start teaching them, and pretty soon too.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

In a world where politicians rise to power that have lied, cheated, stolen, convicted for drunk-driving, drugs, and worse….they think a kid that stole once, then turned his life around, can’t learn to be a good person…and learn how to save lives, help people…

He should have stuck with crime, then he would be in line for a political office, and could rule the world with a little deceit and murder…

Face it, those that made the decision are two faced snobs, they will speak with forked tongues just to appease the public…once done, their noses will be raised again to snobbery levels and bigoted opinions will rule their world.

shame on them.

Posted by cthings | Report as abusive

Imperial are wrong and are acting in Oafish and old fashioned manner. Doctors of today need life expeience . . . I have a spent criminal record but was accepted on a Nursing Course – where`s the parity

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

I have met more doctors who were idiots rather than thieves, though I’ve met a few who were thieves as well.
(vanity seems to lead to idiocy almost as surely as asbestos leads to cancer) Personally if I needed an operation, assuming s/he is able I’d prefer my surgeon to be a humble thief rather than an vain idiot, though certainly not both. Perhaps Imperial should apply a ‘vanity test’ to applicants, it might serve the public better.

Posted by R. Baker | Report as abusive

How do we expect ex convicts to properly rehabilitate and be part of society if we keep excluding them from participating in society? how do we expect them to change if we keep judging them by their past? i think harsh is an understatement, this is a social issue that needs to be addressed at both the social and political level. I think Imperial College should be forced to accept the student!

Posted by Lindi | Report as abusive

he certaninly belongs in the profession.a true profiteer.

Posted by wjd | Report as abusive

No, I don’t think that the decision was too harsh…it’s about time that we returned to a position where people are made to realise that there are consequences to their actions, and ‘Soz mate’ isn’t sufficient to expunge past actions…full marks to Imperial College, and let’s hope that this becomes a trend.

Posted by R.Drapper | Report as abusive

The main problem here is this: “Ahmed should not have to bear the consequences…”. How very British…

Until we have a culture-change in this country, away from the current disconnect that exists between behaviour and consequence, things in society will only go one way (I.E. along the same path that they currently are).
Was his burglary offence for feeding hunger? Different case, but somehow, I doubt it.
How has he demonstrated that he has “turned his life around”. Did he go and apologise to the people he burgled? Does he have any notion of what an invasion of your home feels like?

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

One wonders whether an issue would have been made of this if his name was Percy Gordon, as opposed to Majid Ahmed.

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

As a physician of over thirty years’ experience, I expect applicants to medical school NOT to have a criminal record. A high standard of behaviour is needed to ensure that the physician can be trusted, throughout his/her career.

Posted by Stephan Landis | Report as abusive

i think it’s frankly childish. yes he stole something, but from where i’m standing that doesn’t mean the boy has lost all sense of morality and is now an embodiment of death and disease roaming the streets at night. his academic achievements cannot be denied, nor can his ability to complete the course and be a fine doctor. as a result, i think it was hugely unfair that they denied him a place based on his conviction. we should be trying to get these people to leave their past behind, not keep bringing it up for them.

Posted by Fizel N | Report as abusive

Of course if his family were wealthy there would be no reason to steal. This just reinforces class boundaries. Children from poor families need to be cut some slack, especially for non-violent crimes.

Posted by Mark H. | Report as abusive

Stephan Landis – i find it rather offensive that a physician of 30 years experience would take that kind of view. Surely you cant deny that at 15 you are still developing massively and that person will be a completely different person by the time he is 20 – one mistake shouldnt wreck his life – especially when he probably thought, after that incident, that hed trun his life around and people would accept that. Now, hes been told all of his efforts were pretty much a waste of time – pathetic

Posted by Jonathan Sullivan | Report as abusive